Property and Development Committee Report

Denise Watkins

Committee Chair

The Committee has lawyer representatives from Residential and Commercial Property, Construction and Planning Law and a Barrister who updates on current case law dealing with all aspects of property. We respond to government consultations, Law Society procedural changes and implementation. All members of the Committee are actively involved and most give monthly updates on their areas of Property Law. We seek to address ongoing issues of law and practice for all BLS members and are available to discuss matters where we can with any members who choose to contact the Committee with any concerns.

The Committee has recently responded to several government consultations. As part of its consultation on, “Making the home buying and selling process quicker, cheaper and less stressful” we arranged a meeting with The Right Hon Sajid Javid MP the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to discuss with him aspects of the consultation before drafting our formal response. It is testament to the BLS and the Property and Development Committee that he was prepared to make time for such discussions.

The Committee has also responded to a government consultation on Leasehold Reform and Commonhold, which looked at the nature and problems surrounding Leasehold properties and the matters flowing from this including challenges with Managing Agents. Some changes in the Leasehold process have now become law. We have also responded to a consultation for Birmingham City Council on Statement of Community Involvement to give views on different aspect of planning.

As Chair of the Committee, prior to Covid restrictions, I was involved in a Property Convention in conjunction with The Law Society and representatives from the Land Registry to discuss topical issues with BLS members and to give an insight into the meetings of the Property and Development Committee. This was very well attended.

I attended Property Consultations on behalf of the Committee to give feedback on Land Registry updates, changes in practice and other areas of Law and procedures and have been to London to a round table meeting for discussions on how to progress Anti Money Laundering and Identification via technology.

We have continuing discussions regarding the amount of construction taking place in and around Birmingham which can only be good for the economy. With all the construction and the government’s determination to build more than 1m houses within the next 10 years, the Committee’s future focus will be on how regeneration and development of brown and green field sites will impact on climate change such as flood risk and contaminated land on Commercial and Residential Conveyancing.

The Committee liaises with The Law Society on topical issues particularly where the BLS has concerns and requires reassurances that The Law Society and the BLS are working together.

The Committee has managed to continue with virtual meetings during the Covid period. Anyone who is interested in contributing to the work of the Committee is welcome to attend one of our monthly meetings by prior arrangement. We meet at 1.00pm on the second Tuesday of the month. Please contact me for more information on attending or becoming a member on dwatkinsI